Joe Towne


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EP 220: Joe Towne – Founder of THE PERFORMER’S MINDSET (autogenerated)

Dane Reis: You booked it episode 220. Okay. I am super excited to kick off today’s episode. I’ve got Joe town on today. Joe, are you ready?

Joe Towne: I 

am super ready. Thanks. 

Dane Reis: Beautiful. Joe is best known for his training company for actors, athletes, and corporate executives, the performers mindset in which he offers a workshops designed to help people retrain their brains and hone in on the tools and techniques it takes to perform at the highest levels in the before, during and after the performance mindset combines a sports psychology science.

Artistry, whether it’s preparing for an audition, shifting your mindset for script and screenwriting, shifting for a healthier work-life balance or helping athletes to mentally prepare for the next level, Joe, that is a very concise and quick intro of who you are and what you’ve done. But why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself at filling those gaps and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry.

Joe Towne: Sure. Thanks so much, Dean. I guess as a tourist raised on the east coast of, new Yorker, I, I grew up performing, I think the first performance I probably ever did was jumping off of a couch upstate New York to a thunderous applause from about four people. And I think it hooked me, I think the idea of like,oh, wow, I got that kind of response.

With this sized crowd. look what might be possible. I don’t think I had any idea that I’d be a performer, but, I did love the idea of that kind of feedback. And I think for hot men and I thought it was going to be a professional baseball player. I grew up loving, the experience of being in a stand and feeling that energy.

And I loved playing baseball. I love watching it. I love listening to it. And I played, I went to summer camp at Trenton state college and, really improved my game, but I sprouted it up pretty quickly. I think it was a little awkward in my body and I definitely was afraid of the high inside fastball.

I didn’t realize my eyes may have been. And that I would probably need glasses. So that fear drove 

me away from baseball. And I don’t think I knew what I wanted to do until, I was in an English class and my English professor asked each of us to, read a monologue from Shakespeare. I think it was reading the tomorrow speech.

And after class, he called me over and he said, you should come down and check out what we’re doing in this, in the theater. And. Secretly, my mom had encouraged me to try out for the school play the summer before, but I think nerves overtook me. I don’t think I ever would have thought I could actually try out for the play.

And so when I came down there demystified the whole thing and I got to watch from the audience and it seemed fun. And so I was offered my very first. Which was the off-stage voice of, I was the miracle worker. And so there was a Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan, her teacher. And I was offered the role of the seven year old dead brother of Manny Sullivan.

So my first acting job was a voiceover, which is appropriate since we’re doing this as voiceover, but I was fortunate to be in a school that had incredible arts funding and really celebrated the arts at that time. And so I ended up doing about 30 productions of theater before deciding to go off and go across the country to USC and pursue a career in film. And I went to USC and was really fortunate and eventually moved back to New York to pursue a life in theater. And, it was a few years before I finally made the big leap and moved back out to Los Angeles to seek working in front of the camera. I think I had fallen in love with the stage and, it was really encouragement of one of my mentors and teachers, Gary Austin, who, on a weekend intensive.

Taking some workshops got to meet an agent and the agent said, if you want to pursue TV and film, we’d love to sign you. And so I had this opportunity to move across the country and get an apartment, get a car, get a job, and have an agent, or have everything in New York except an agent. And I had been trying to start a theater company and trying to produce a play.

I made the big leap. and it was really fortunate. I got into the union within two months of being out here. I’d booked a couple of jobs, and then I hit that low. That sometimes happens where it was a long time before I worked again. But, I thought those initial things really, gave me some encouragement.

Maybe I could do this, and I know I’m jumping around in through time quite a bit, but that was my sort of origin story and fallen in love 

with being a.

Dane Reis: Yeah, I love that. Well, let’s dig into this first section here. I’m excited to get into this interview and Joe, look, I am a sucker for a good quote. is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with everyone?

Joe Towne: The thing about favorites of me. Is, I really love the high fidelity and high fidelity. He always got to do like top five. So, um,I’m just going to answer that by saying here’s top quote of the moment for me and the top coat of the moment is this idea of doing things better than they’ve ever been done before.

I think that’s, what’s driving me and, I think there’s one thing to think about that in terms of others doing it better than other people. And there’s another thing to think about doing that in regards to. And so there was a head coach of a football team who has, is he’s the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

He was the coach of my Alma mater, USC, Pete Carroll. And he’s the one who really, shared this phrase, through his writing to me. And I think that a lot of it has to do with this concept of competition. And when I think about competition, I don’t know about you. When I think about competition, I usually had thought about it as, beating my opponent.

like besting others, the French definition, which comp tear means to best one’s opponent. And it’s a zero sum game I win you lose. Whereas the ancient Latin definition of competition actually meant to strive together to strive with. And so the origin of the word competition and the origin of the word collaboration share the same root to strive with towards a common goal.

Joe Towne: So I apply that to this quote, which. How can I strive with others to seek, to be the best version of myself, no matter what I’m doing, making a chai tea, auditioning, hanging out with my son. How can I do it better than I’ve done it before? So that’s the quote. That’s really a top of mind. And it’s a really a big thrust of,my podcast in our company and what I’m 

seeking personally.

Dane Reis: Oh, that’s fantastic. How can I strive with others? You know, to be the best that I can be. I love that. So really good and profound. thanks for sharing the, uh, the Latin root in the difference and that’s amazing. Uh, love thatquote. Thank you. Let’s jump ahead to . This section.

And of course, Joe, your roots started as an entertainer. I’m an entertainer. And I think that you’d agree that this industry can be one of the most subjective, brutally, honest, personally, emotional industries in existence. you know, as well as I, that in order to create and have a successful career in this industry, like you’re having now takes a lot.

Of dedication and hard work. And yeah, there’s an outrageous amount of fun and excitement doing what we do. There are also our fair share of obstacles, challenges, and failures. We are inevitably going to experience and we’re going to have to move forward through. So tell us, what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced throughout your career how did you come out the other side better?

Joe Towne: Gosh, it’s such a good question. And the idea of the amount of rejection that we have to handle and how emotional we are as performers is part of our job and our makeup and us being sensitive is probably part of what makes us good at what we do. So the idea of being sensitive to rejection, it hurts. And, and I think for me, it’s been. Understanding my relationship to what failure means and my relationship to what rejection actually looks like. So what I mean by that is when I first started out, I was really fortunate. I had those two jobs right away. That gave me a lot of confidence because my confidence was rooted in something outside of me, which is external success. But then also then I started seeking external success. I started seeking booking because who wouldn’t want a book. And I started seeking validation. Like,am I on the right path? Am I, you know,when I’m in class, my teacher tells me things. It gives me feedback. Sometimes we don’t get those when we go into the room.

So I was trying to make sense of it if I didn’t book the job and I didn’t get good feedback. what does it mean? How do I know if I’m doing better? And so a lot of it had to do with the idea of failure has to be decoupled from external results. Because when we think about it, even if 25 people audition for something and four people are called back or sent along, that’s for people that are options for this 75% of those people are not going to get the job because only one person can get it.

So I cannot, for me, I cannot any longer make the indicator of how. So I had to decouple failure from not getting the job and failure had to be reframed. So it was a sports psychologist that introduced the idea of failure might not be about making mistakes. Failure might not be about the result. Failure might be about the lack of going through. And so I’ve had to develop this relationship, but what does it feel like to be me when I’m at my best? And what does it feel like to go for it? the only time that I’m ever okay with not getting the job is if I did everything that I wanted to do, everything I set out to do, did I have a clear 


Dane Reis: Yeah. 

Joe Towne: I passionate about it? Did I have fun? Did I feel like myself that checklist is what I use to measure? And I found that more times than not. If I am able to bring those four things with me into the room, that the results start to take care of them. 

Dane Reis: Yeah. 

Joe Towne: I think that was 

one of the biggest things.

Dane Reis: Yeah. And that was hands down the most eloquent way that I’ve ever heard that explained. And. well, it comes up in the podcast. You know, a lot of people talk about, you know, booking their, you know, their first Broadway show. Right.the very common.input is that, look, there are so many things out of our control. When we get into those rooms with, in front of that panel, the casting director, the producers whoever’s there, That you cannot bog yourself down with. That external validation from them? Because you can’t control that.

The only thing you can do is be you and show up and. Doing your work to the best of your ability and then leaving and letting it go. everyone that has that I’ve spoken with really, that has booked something big, something they’re super proud of They can reflect on those moments and exactly what they were doing.

They were just, they prepared properly. They showed up, they were present, they were themselves. They didn’t try to. Seek validation. They just said, okay, this is what I’ve got for you. This is me. And they left. And that is what led ultimately into them booking in getting that external validation. But that’s not what was being sought after in the first place.

 Yeah, really, really good. And let’s move on to a time that I like to call your spotlight moment. That one moment in time that you realized yeah. I am going to be an entertainer for a living or maybe it was, yes, this is what I need to be doing in this industry. Tell us about that.

Joe Towne: Well, you know,there was a period of time when I was mainly. You know,an early artist, and I’d only really had one teacher. And at a certain point, I started to feel like, that.

feels good, but it doesn’t necessarily mean. I don’t even think. I thought about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life or what I wanted to do for college.

I just knew I wanted to go to an acting camp and there was an acting camp, upstate New York in Loch Sheldrake called stage door manner. And a lot of notable, actors had come out of this summer camp. And so I, I begged and borrowed and worked to save up to go to this acting camp. When I got there, I started to meet the actors who were constantly getting the leads in their plays at other high schools from all around the country and maybe even internationally.

And I was intimidated, I started to look around and go, oh wow, this is what it, this is what it feels like to be in a group of people that are very good at what they do. And something happened that summer, which was, there was, a search on. For the two young boys in the Broadway show lost in Yonkers.

And they were looking for, the two kids to play, the two roles, the brothers. And the casting director comes up from New York. Jay binder comes up from New York and he auditions the entire camp of boys, anybody who’s in the age range, he auditions them and they put up the list for callbacks and they had a second round of callbacks and then a third and then a fourth. And after the. Call back your next move would be to go to meet the creative team in New York. And so after the fourth audition, Kay binder called me over to his desk and he said, listen, um, you know,there’s no way in heck I can cast you as a Jew in the 1940s, but I want to let you know, you should keep doing this. And two ironic things came out of that. One is, I didn’t have much professional experience. So I was like, oh, Like, I just bounced back from it. I didn’t have a history of rejection to add to a story. So I was just really, moved that he said something to me. And the second thing is I proceeded to go back to my high school and I got cast as a 

Jew in the 1940s, uh,in the diary of Anne Frank.

It was pretty ironic that, and I think I told my acting teacher from high school that I wanted to go to college for acting. And there was something about thatthat instilled a confidence in me. Maybe I can do this. And so 

Dane Reis: Yeah,that he shared that with me instead of, just, he could have just said now, 

of course. Amazing. Wonderful. And let’s piggyback on that question real quick and talk about your number one, booked it moment. Walk us through that day, the auditions and callbacks. If they happen to be a part of it, what was going on in your life? And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite booked it. 

Joe Towne: You know, had just moved across the country. My mother passed away of cancer, two years before and my sense of self and my confidence got a little rocked, but I decided to make the leap out to Los Angeles and. I had booked my first job. and th I was now a must join for the union, and I got the opportunity to audition for a show called Providence, and it was on NBC show, starting Molina, CATA Karitas.

And, I was playing a young artist who, Basically had gone to live with his grandmother, his parents had died and he was starting to forget what they look like. And so I really felt like this was a divine opportunity. I felt like I was honoring my mom. I felt like a lot of symbolism in different parts of my life.

And I worked very hard this audition and in fact, I was supposed to play a young Russian, and I had studied a little bit of dialects at USC. but this was an opportunity to go to Sanford. Get a dialogue tape work with a dialogue coach. And so I went in to, first the audition and then the call back and I was doing this accent and it didn’t have to be flawless, which was nice because he was living in the United States and, he just had to be Russian, but it didn’t have to be, he was living in Russia.

Dane Reis: Right. 

Joe Towne: And I remember two things, I went into the hallway. I had been there before for the audition, and that was the callback. And I had my agent’s voice in my head, which was in and get the heck out of there. Don’t start chitchatting with others. You’re not there for that. It’s not social hour. So go off and do your thing.

And so I had this brown journal and I went off and I started sketching. I wanted to put myself into the play space of what this artists might be going through. And, I saw somebody. audition for this role and it’s somebody, I respected a lot. So all of a sudden I was like, oh, maybe this means that this type of opportunity that I belong. So I took that moment and, I went back to my sketching and I went in the room and the creator of the show and the writer of the episode and the casting director were all there. And they had me do the audition. They threw a note at me that had me do it again. And then they said, thanks so much. And I left and they came running down the hall after me and asked me to come back.

And when they asked me to come back, they said, Hey, can you do the audition again? But without the. And I said, sure. And so I did the audition a third time, this time with no accent. And I, there was a look on someone’s face in the room that I could tell they were appreciative that I’d taken the note that’s as far as I would take it.

but when I, I got my page, I’m going to date myself. I got a page. I pulled over to the side of the road. I raced to a payphone and I called my agent. The fact that I had booked this top of show guest star opposite Molina category. It is in this beautiful episode that felt like it was honoring my mother.

it really made me feel like I could belong and it made me feel like I could do really rigorous roles. and it was really meaningful to me. And I loved my 

Joe Towne: experience on that show.

Dane Reis: Ah, amazing. What a fantastic story really loved that. Thank you for sharing. let’s take a moment to talk about the. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And Hey, we’re still kind of amidst this global pandemic, right? It’s kind of coming and going, coming and going. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of.

Joe Towne: Such good questions, spend a lot of.

time thinking about these. so I just gotten back from Hawaii where I had my first job since this global pandemic. And it’s the SQL to a zombie movie. it hasn’t been announced yet, so I can’t talk too much about it, but, it was really exciting to be in a place among creatives in, mostly in outdoors.

We didn’t have any, I didn’t have any real indoor scenes to do, but where we were in this little sort of independent production, We’re standing in the footprints of king Kong. We’re looking up at where lost was shot. Like we were in this beautiful outdoor space called Coolo around ranch, and pretty much everything that’s been shot in the island of Oahu, big budget movies were shot there.

So there was something about being in the experience in dealing with COVID testing and, being mindful of collaborating with others and getting back into a flow that was incredibly moving. So coming back from that, coupling that with what I’m offering as a coach and what I’m offering as a teacher in our company, we’re really interested in how do we train to sustain and how do we train to adapt? So those are two things that, whether we’re working over zoom or we’re working in person or working in a combination , how do we have consistent. Um,so I just got back from two weeks in Toronto and my first time traveling back to Canada and we were working, at George Brown college and George Brown is a Really wonderful theater, uh, school. In some ways I tried to make sense of likening it to our NYU. And, I got to work with the second year students and spent two weeks. And it was a combination of, there were some Meissner teachers and then it was miser and mindset. And so what we’re attempting to do is help people deal with head noise. We’re helping people train confidence and the way they talk to themselves, we’re trying to help people deal with the optimal amount of stress, because stress actually helps our performance. So when it comes to having no stress and no interest and almost an apathy, we think that might help us. I wasn’t nervous at all, but it turns out that energy is actually fuel.

So if it’s too much for us, then we can get overwhelmed and we get dysregulated. And if it’s not enough, we may not get. And we might not have the juice we need. And so how do we sustain and how do we adapt? And so a big part of what I’m practicing is always working a little bit off balance. how do we train for the unknown?

I think I spent about the decade trying to work in optimal conditions. My acting class was my safe place. I was with my favorite teacher and my favorite colleagues working in my favorite. In my favorite environment, but then you go into the world in an audition room or on set and things are different. And so I started to realize, gosh, I’m not really, I’m just hoping for the best when I go out there. But when I looked at what elite athletes do, and when I looked at even like performers that go audition for places like Julliard, they’re constantly throwing wrinkles at themselves. So that they can prepare for the unknown, right?

That, that other quote, smooth seas do not make a skilled sailor. So whether it’s in my own audition space or whether it’s coaching sessions or when I’m teaching, I’m seeking, how do we train and prepare our minds for the unknown and to be adaptable. And so those are the two things that I’m really working on.

Dane Reis: oh, fantastic. Really great. Can you talk about your company just a little bit about, hit on it a little bit, cause you were up in Toronto doing that, but can you expand a little bit on what your company does?

Joe Towne: Sure. It’s so strange to say company, because just a few short years ago, there were two of us and we were teaching an acting class, but it wasn’t about acting. We assume that actors have a technique and that they like that technique. And what we were really interested in with. How do we deal with the head noise that inevitably comes up before and after an audition and sometimes during, and so we created our, inaugural intro to mindset program. And within that class, 90% of the people said, will you continue this? So we added another round and the person I created it with is, a woman named Hillary Tauck, who is an extraordinary actress. She was on honey. I shrunk the kids with the late Peter Scolari, who just passed for many years and, growing up as a child actor, nodded our head to all the ways we got tripped up in auditioning throughout the years.

And we wanted to create a program to address the things that don’t normally get addressed in acting programs and acting schools. And we had an athlete who came and took one of our classes and he was like, you got to come talk to them. You know,group of young high school quarterbacks. And these were, 17 year olds who were about to go play for the top 24 colleges in the United States.

So they were going to Alabama, Texas, USC, and Georgia. And they basically were saying, Hey, we ha you know, are we walk on a campus? We’re handed an Instagram account with 70,000 followers and media training may not happen until later in our careers, but many of us haven’t worked on camera. What is it like performing on the world stage?

So we came and worked with them a little bit and started to realize, gosh, we are so excited to learn sports psychology, to teach actors about mental toughness and how to sustain and the science behind these best practices. But then after. You know,could really use help with being vulnerable and media training.

And we thought the intersection of art and sport was so important, but then we realized, gosh, executives need this work too, because they’re constantly looking to have. X coaches and athletes to come in and be motivational. And sometimes they hire improvisers to come in and teach them how to be more creative.

And so we had a colleague who was training scientists on how to perform better using the rules of improvisation. And so the three of us started teaching workshops and then we brought in another person and here we have this collection of about seven of us who during the day. It’s still audition, still work, still do our craft.

So we’re not 20 to 40 years removed from the industry at anything we’re teaching. We’re trying out during the day and then sharing at night. So we’ve started developing these weekend, intensives that turn into training courses that lasts about six weeks long. And then we’re also challenging ourselves to do things better than they have ever been done.

By us. So we have a growth mindset about trying new things. And so we’ve now developed about 35 programs and those programs are on the cusp of being recorded so that we can share them with people far and wide. but in the meantime, we usually host these, workshops online program. And so our company started out in Los Angeles and expanded up to Toronto and now, and Vancouver, and we’re heading to the east coast, Atlanta and New York this coming year.

And we couldn’t be more excited. We, everywhere we go, people are like, where were these? 20 years ago? So we feel like this information, people are hungry 

Dane Reis: yeah. 

Joe Towne: They really appreciate the way in which it’s presented. We try to keep things fun and science backed and practical. So that’s a bit about the performance. 

Dane Reis: Yeah, very cool. Thank you for sharing. Very valuable resource for all of us. And it is now time to move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightning round. I am going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another.

Are you.

Joe Towne: Yes, I 

am ready.

Dane Reis: Good. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?

Joe Towne: Fear 

Dane Reis: Second question. is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Joe Towne: bring something into the room. Don’t go in with an empty cup, expecting your cup to 


Dane Reis: Oh really great. Third question. What is something that is working for you right now?

Joe Towne: Making a lot of mistakes, risking and making a lot of mistakes. It’s the only way I can learn. And it’s the only way I 

can grow.

Dane Reis: fourth question. is your best resource? Whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video, maybe a podcast or a piece of technology found is helping your career. Right.

Joe Towne: I would say the podcast, finding mastery with Dr. Michael Jervais a sports psychologist. it’s where a lot of the science practices were first sparked in me that led to books and magazine articles and Ted talks. that’s probably the number one resource and starting place and, got a bunch more, but that’s the 

starting place.

Dane Reis: Great. Fifth question. If you had to start your career from scratch, but you still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected from your career in the industry, what would you do or not do? Would you do anything differently or would you keep it.I think it would be impossible to keep it.

Joe Towne: the same because I’d be starting a new instead of having my, my experience before. I think the thing that I. Really do is, prioritize, a sustainable life. Meaning I have work that I do in between my auditions that sustains me emotionally, spiritually, financially. And I think I, I struggled so much with the. Five odd jobs and the stress and strain financially that came from that early on. And I think the people that I’ve seen that have created a sustainable life outside of it, they seem to be having more consistent and sustained success now. 

Dane Reis: Um, good. And last question, what is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career in the industry? like to leave with our listeners,

Joe Towne: The golden nugget 

that I want to leave behind. Yeah. So it’s SU super simple, which is. Do you, but the things that come up around that are, pretty intense, I think the main source of anxiety for people is scanning for what other people might be thinking. And that’s been articulated as the fear of other people’s opinions. And so it comes back to what you said that you’ve been gleaning from all the conversations with people throughout the industry, which is bring in your take.

And so I think it’s simple, do you, but it’s complicated in terms of we make it complicated and it can be hard or challenging to trust it. And to me, that’s the gold.

nugget is, you know,when I hear a goal to hear. And I think about the philosopher stone and the idea that the secrets of the universe is, can be written on one stone. So that stone might say, 

Dane Reis: Yes, love it. Do you, and to wrap up this interview, Joe, it is time to give yourself a plug. Where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to.

Joe Towne: Sure. Yeah, you can find me on all the usual suspects, social media platforms at me, Joe town. But my podcast, the better podcast was born out of two things. One, all the work that we’re doing at the performers mindset, sometimes I’m coaching executive or an athlete or a student privately. And so I can’t share those conversations, but I wanted to have conversations like. And so I sought out 12 perspectives, 12 creative perspectives in and around different industry. So whether it’s, a chef rooted in, ancient Italian cuisine based in Tuscany or musicians that have toured the world with Tom petty and Leonard Cohen, or whether it’s somebody who was a creative catalyst for Nike, we have these different perspectives and we’re about halfway through our first season.

And by the end of the season, I hope that the entire. we’ll create a constellation perspective people will hear similar themes over and over again, and start to be able to apply those to their own lives, their careers, their relationships, and what does better mean to you? 

Dane Reis: Brilliant love that. And for everyone listening out there, I have put the links to everything. Joe just talked about into the description of this episode. You can easily connect with him. And also be sure to share this podcast with your fellow entertainers, teachers, arts, and entertainment educators, and anyone, you know, aspiring to create a career in the entertainment industry.

You booked. It is the number one resource of expertise on how to actually create a successful entertainment case in point, everything Joe shared with us today. If you enjoyed this episode, please hit that subscribe button. So you don’t miss the next one, Joe. Thank you so much for joining me. It’s been such a pleasure to have you on the show get so much of your expertise it’s been wonderful.

Thank you.

Joe Towne: Dane. Thank you. And I truly appreciate what you’re doing, what you’re seeking and, Thank you. for the gift of your time.

Dane Reis: Thank you.